Drop Your Phone in Water? Here's How to Get It Out

Drop Your Phone in Water? Here's How to Get It Out

We've all been there — one minute, you're snapping the perfect picture or trying to send a last-minute text message, and the next thing you know, your phone is sinking in water.

Whether you left your new iPhone in your back pocket on laundry day or had a case of slippery fingers at the beach, water-related cellphone damage happens to the best of us. Fortunately, there are solutions that might be able to help spare your phone any lasting damage.


How Water Damages Your Phone

If you're fortunate, your water damage could be minimal or nonexistent — but if your phone was submerged for a prolonged time, the damage could be more extensive. Water can leak into all parts of your device, including behind the screen, inside the battery compartment and in the charging port.

If your phone has water damage, you might notice:

  • A distorted image on the screen.
  • Unusual sounds or distorted audio sounding from the speakers.
  • The inability to play any sounds or display images at all.
  • A failure to charge.
  • Water seeping from the casing.
  • The inability to turn the device off or on.
  • The device automatically restartsn its own.
  • Visible moisture trapped behind the screen.

Other damages — like a shattered screen or chipped frame — could occur if your phone also hit a solid surface.

Move it to a dry area

Remove battery and accessories

Turn it off

Give it time

Take the case off

What to Do If You Drop Your Phone in Water

What to Do If You Drop Your Phone in Water

Follow these steps immediately if you've dropped a phone in water:

  1.  Move it to a dry area: Remove your phone from the water source without turning it, shaking it or moving it excessively, as this could cause the water to move further into your device's internal components. Lay the device on a dry towel or a pile of napkins to let it drain in a room with adequate air flow.
  2.   Turn it off: Turn your phone off, including any wireless connections, as soon as you remove it from water to stop electrical currents that could worsen damage or be a safety hazard to handle. Do not plug your phone in.
  3.   Take the case off: Remove your phone case and hand dry it with a cloth or paper towel. Do not replace the case until you've finished drying your phone and it's safe to use again.
  4.   Remove battery and accessories: If possible, remove the device's battery and all other accessories and internal components, like headphones, SD cards and the SIM card. Gently pat them dry, then set them beside your device to continue air drying.
  5.   Give it time: Allow your device plenty of time to air dry and drain before moving on to more complete water removal methods. Do not handle the phone, replace its components or turn the power on until you've removed as much water as possible.

    How to Get Water Out of Your Phone

    The Rice Method
    Use Silica Gel
    Professional Drying Services

    How to Get Water Out of Your Phone

    If you've let your phone drain and air dry and still suspect internal water, don't panic! By placing your device inside an absorbent material — called a desiccant — you may be able to pull out some of the remaining moisture. Two popular desiccant materials are rice and silica gel.

    The Rice Method

    The rice method likely came from photographers and filmmakers who needed a way to dry cameras when filming in humid locations and has since become a go-to emergency drying method for smartphone owners everywhere. The concept is based on the fact that uncooked rice absorbs water — which is why it gets larger and softer while it cooks — and can help draw moisture out of a waterlogged device.

    Here's how it works:

    1.   Fill a sealable bag, dish or container with dry, uncooked rice. Any type of rice will do, though instant rice may yield faster results.
    2.   Carefully place your device and any wet components, including the battery, inside the rice. Do not move the phone around too much or turn it upside down.
    3.   Bury the wet device and components in more rice until they are completely submerged and covered on all sides.
    4.   Seal the bag or cover the top of the dish or container and set it somewhere warm and dry, like on a window sill or near a lamp, to promote faster evaporation.
    5.   Let your phone and components sit undisturbed in the rice for at least one day, longer if the water damage is extensive.
    6.   Remove your phone and inspect for any remaining signs of water or persistent damage, then reassemble the device. Make sure no rice grains are lodged inside the ports.
    7.   Power your phone on and assess its performance, including its audio, display and charging capabilities.

      If you've dropped your phone in water and have no rice, similar pantry items, like oatmeal or quinoa, can also help.

      Use Silica Gel

      Silica, or silicon dioxide, has a similar composition to sand. Silica gel is a type of silica desiccant that adsorbs roughly 40% of its weight in moisture and helps reduce overall humidity inside enclosed areas and packages. If you've bought a new item, like a pair of shoes, medication or electronics, you're probably familiar with the small silica gel packets inside the packaging. These packets contain silica-based xerogel, which absorbs moisture and helps water molecules adhere to the gel's surface. This makes it a valuable tool for drying electronics — some forms of silica gel are even reusable if you heat them to more than 300 degrees.

      Here's how to use silica gel packets to dry out your wet phone:

      1.   Gather as many dry silica gel packets as you can find. You can order them through various online retailers or collect them as you find them in packaging.
      2.   Fill a zippered plastic sandwich bag with the packets.
      3.   Carefully place your phone, battery and any other wet components inside the bag and cover them with packets. Place packets directly in vulnerable areas, like the battery compartment, if possible.
      4.   Seal the bag and gently place it flat on a solid surface in a warm, dry area where it won't be disturbed.
      5.   Wait several days before removing, inspecting and testing your device.

        Don't have any silica gel packets on hand? Some types of clean silica-based cat litter can work just as well in a pinch! Choose a medium or large grain litter, and be sure to inspect your device before reassembling it to make sure no particles are trapped inside the ports.

        Professional Drying Services

        If all other methods have failed, or your device seems too waterlogged for do-it-yourself methods, research professional device drying services at repair shops or kiosks near you. Professionals use a combination of desiccants, vacuums and heat to dry devices quickly.

        What About Non-Fresh Water?

        If you dropped your phone outdoors or inside near a sink, toilet or bathtub, you might be dealing with more than just water. Dirty water, saltwater and water with chemical additives, like chlorine, can cause more extensive damage to your device than water alone:

        • Dirty water: Dirty water, like puddles and lakes, are full of bacteria, sediment and contaminants that can build up and linger inside your device. This debris can further damage your phone and make skin-to-phone contact unsafe. Flush your phone with a quick rinse of clean, fresh water and carefully wipe away any visible sediments from inside the charging port, around screen corners and anywhere build-up is possible.
        • Chemically altered water: Everyone loves a poolside selfie, but chlorinated water can wreak havoc on smartphones, and many manufacturer warranties do not apply to chemically altered water. Promptly flush your device with fresh water and follow the above steps for drying.
        • Saltwater: Salt is corrosive and may cause tiny scratches on your screen or build up inside your device and break internal components. If you dropped your phone while snapping a picture of your favorite coastal spot, quickly submerge your phone inside fresh water mixed with baking soda to offset the salt before allowing it to dry.

        In many cases, the safest and most effective solution when you drop your phone in non-fresh water is taking it to a professional repair service that has the equipment to clean delicate areas of the device.

        How to Get Water Out of Your Phone Speaker

        Accidentally submerge your entire device in a pool of water? You may be able to use sound to get water out of a phone speaker. Cellphone speakers are highly prone to water-related damage because they are intricate and their design leaves them more easily exposed to the elements and any contaminants in the water. Once your speaker is waterlogged, it's challenging to repair or return to your original audio quality — but app developers are trying to change that through sound.

        While using sounds to get water out of your phone seems like something pulled from a futuristic sci-fi film, the idea behind it is that some specific frequencies can help eject water from your speaker's internal elements. As the force of that frequency plays, you'll see small water droplets slowly ejecting from your speakers. Gently pat them dry with a towel and repeat the process as needed.

        Android users will find speaker cleaning apps on Google Play, such as Speaker Cleaner, while Apple users can rely on the Apple Store's Sonic V app. Please note that this method may not work for all cellphone models and the success of this treatment depends on several factors, like the type of water you dropped your phone in, how long it was submerged, the device's waterproof rating and the extent of the damage.

        4 Tips for Protecting Your Phone From Water Damage

        1. Choose Phones Rated for Water Protection
        2. Use a Waterproof Case
        3. Purchase a Drying Kit
        4. Get Phone Insurance

        4 Tips for Protecting Your Phone From Water Damage

        While the methods listed above can be very effective ways to remove water in a pinch, prevention is always the best option. Protect your phone from water damage with these tips.

        1. Choose Phones Rated for Water Protection

        One advertised feature for today's top-selling smartphones is its IP rating, which stands for Ingress Protection. The two most common ratings right now are IP67 and IP68. The IP rating tells the buyer what level of protection the device has against dust and water. Each number represents a different level of protection.

        Consider the Samsung Galaxy S21 5G and S21+5G, both of which are rated at IP68. The six stands for what kind of small solids, like dust, the phone is warded against. Currently, six is the highest possible rating in this category. The next digit, eight, is the phone's water resistance rating. Eight is currently the highest rating possible for water resistance. IP68 smartphones, including the Galaxy S21 5G, have been tested to survive more than 1 meter of water submersion.

        While it's never a great situation when you drop your phone in water, having a device with a high IP rating will help protect it from as much moisture-related damage as possible.

        2. Use a Waterproof Case

        If you spend a lot of time near water — or just want to protect your investment — a waterproof case might be a good choice for you. These cases are made from water-resistant materials and have special raised designs that keep the device inside completely encased and protected from water. Some waterproof phone cases can even help your phone stay afloat and avoid submersion altogether.

        When choosing a waterproof phone case, consider the following:

        • The size of the case compared to the size of your phone
        • The brand and model the case was designed for
        • The case's thickness, grip and how well it fits in your hand
        • Additional protection features against things like dust and falls
        • How the case looks — its color and design
        • Ease of use for the camera, volume and home buttons

        3. Purchase a Drying Kit

        Pre-assembled cellphone drying kits typically include silica-based desiccants and a sealable bag, so you can dry your phone out quickly or on the go. If you buy a kit now, you'll always have it in an emergency. You can find them on major online retailers and at local electronics and cellphone repair shops.

        4. Get Phone Insurance

        With smartphone prices increasing each year, you've probably wondered if phone insurance is worth the extra cost. The answer depends on several factors, including how much you spent on your device, how often you travel, your budget for a new phone and ongoing repairs, the insurance plan in question and how likely you are to damage your phone.

        You can usually enroll in a phone insurance plan through:

        • Your network carrier
        • The phone manufacturer
        • A third-party insurance provider

        Be sure to read the details of what your policy covers. For example, some insurance policies may not protect against water damage if the device was submerged but may cover minor damage, like spills. Other plans limit how much you can claim in damage amounts and limit the number of claims you can make each year.

        Phone insurance isn't the same as the device's warranty, which likely only covers manufacturing-related damages or defects.

        Sell Unwanted Phones to ecoATM

        If your smartphone is too water-damaged for repair — or you're just ready to get rid of an old device to make room for a new release — ecoATM can help

        Sell Used Smartphones to ecoATM

        If your smartphone is too water-damaged for repair — or you're just ready to get rid of an old device to make room for a new release — ecoATM can help. Bring your unwanted device to an ecoATM kiosk, and we'll give you instant cash for your trade-in. We'll take your phone, regardless of condition, and make sure it's recycled responsibly and safely. Learn more about our mission and find an ecoATM kiosk near you to get started! 

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